The prospectus page for The Yellow Book is a simultaneous embrace and rejection of modern modes of production for magazines in the nineteenth-century. The prospectus claims that “The aim of the Publishers and Editors of The Yellow Book is to depart as far as may be from the bad old traditions of periodical literature …” in order to achieve a magazine that is a “beautiful” “book”, both “modern and distinguished in nature” (Beardsley and Harland 3). The text claims that The Yellow Book will “publish no serials” and will thus expel the “choppy effect” of typical magazines (Beardsley and Harland 4). The creators want the magazine to be a “book”, refusing to include advertisements other than publishers’ lists (Beardsley and Harland 5). This claim to a new modernity asserts The Yellow Book itself as atypical: “The Yellow Book, then, was meant to redress the imbalance between the literary and graphic arts … this play with the elements of format assumes a more clearly anti-commercial aspect …” (Dowling 120, 125). In other words, the prospectus of The Yellow Book is a proposal to create a magazine as art for art’s sake. The magazine has the ambition to become an ephemeral text that combines the narrative mode of books while inserting the graphic arts to produce a new modern text that is bizarre and fragmented in structure. The Yellow Book borrows qualities of visual art as well as immerses the reader in a highly-visual printed text in order to create an experimental form of the magazine that produces a new modernity that rejects the capitalist aspects of a modernizing, industrial time.
Beardsley, Aubrey, and Henry Harland. The Yellow Book Prospectus to Volume 1. Vol. 1, London : E. Mathews & J. Lane ; Boston : Copeland & Day, 1894. Yellow Nineties 2.0, archive.org/details/yellowapril189401uoft.
Dowling, Linda. “Letterpress and Picture in the Literary Periodicals of the 1890s.” The Yearbook of English Studies , vol. 16, 1986, pp. 117–131., doi:10.2307/3507769.